NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee's once every 10 years redistricting process will start in just weeks time. What impact will it have on the local congressional seats?
Speaker Cameron Sexton said on Tuesday nothing's off the table. The state's population increased nearly 8% from 2010 to 2019, with much of the population growth happening in Middle Tennessee.
Changes for state house and senate districts can be expected there.
"It could very likely change the makeup of the statehouse," said Representative Bob Freeman of Nashville. Freeman is one of four Democrats on the redistricting committee.
"You've got a growing population in Rutherford County which is more blue or purple," said Freeman. "That's one that will probably see some change. You've got a shrinking population in West Tennessee. Specifically, around Shelby County and Memphis."
Sexton announced the bipartisan committee last week. The split is rare for redistricting committees, though, the process takes place only once every 10 years.
"I think everybody knows the population of Tennessee has grown. So, what you'll see is that East and West Tennessee are moving more towards Middle Tennessee," said Sexton.
With heavy growth in Middle Tennessee, there's a chance that Tennessee's fifth congressional district, currently seated by Rep. Jim Cooper, could change. Sexton said it's possible.
"It could be divided, it might not be divided," he said. "I think there's more people there than a congressional seat needs. So, we'll just have to wait and see what that really looks like."
Freeman said he hopes that doesn't happen in such a way that Nashville loses its Democrat-held seat.
"Nashville is the economic engine of our state and if they try to play games and move our congressional representation out of Nashville, out of Davidson County and the economic engine no longer has a voice in congress, that could do major harm to the economy of all of Tennessee," said Freeman.
Both said they believe the new district lines will be voted on in January.